Smoke Signals

Nov/Dec 2008



As promised here are a few recipes we’ve found. From the time of the colonies and through the Indian Wars most recipes home brewed and passed on by word of one to another and only a few were written down. A word of caution, measurements have changed over the years as products improved; (ex. yeast of old compared to today, half the amount is required.)

Sugar Buns (colonies)

Take 3/4 of a pound of sifted flour, (2) large spoonfuls of brown sugar, (2) spoonfuls of good yeast, add a little salt, stir well together and when risen work in (2) spoonfuls of butter, make into buns, set to rise again and bake until a golden brown on tins.

Mrs. Berkshire,New Lady’s Cook Book,1731

Soda Biscuits (F & I War)

(1) quart of sour milk, (1) teaspoonful of soda, (1) teaspoonful of salt, a piece of butter the size of an egg and enough flour to make them roll out. Bake on a clean rock or flat plate until they are brown. Ranger’s Journal (un-named) 17xx ?

Yeast Biscuits (Rev. War)

Take (2) quarts of flour, (2) ounces of butter, half pint of boiling water, (1) teaspoonful of salt, (1) pint of cold milk and half cup of yeast. Mix well and set to rise, then mix a teaspoonful of saleratus in a little water and mix into dough, roll on a board an inch thick, cut into small biscuits and bake twenty minutes.

Sgt.Major A.N.Berwyn,Paoli News,1776

Tarter Biscuits (War of 1812)

Take (1) quart of flour, (3) teaspoonfuls of cream of tarter, mixed well through the flour, (2) teaspoonfuls of shortening, (1) teaspoonful of soda, dissolved in warm water, of a sufficient quantity to mold the quart of flour. For the large families the amount can be doubled. un-named, New York Regulars,1810

Reb Bread (Civil War)

(1) quart of butter milk, (1) quart of corn meal, (1) quart of coarse flour, (1) cup of molasses, add a little soda and salt. Bake until tan in color. 1862

Lt.Samuel L.Brown,Pennsylvania Regulars,

Yeastless Bread (Indian Wars)

Mix in your flour subcarbonate of soda, (2) parts, tartaric acid (1) part, both finely powered. Mix up your bread with warm water, adding but a little at a time and then bake until brown.

Mr.John Cottingly,Kansas City News,1881

Fry Fish (Indian Wars)

Fry fish in hot lard or beef drippings, or you may use equal parts of lard and butter; butter alone takes out the sweetness and gives a bad color. Fried parsley, grated horse radish, or lemon are used as a garnish. Mrs.Crowen,Every Lady’s Cookbook,1854 PAGE 17

Johnny Cakes

Popular with troops of most every war that has been in N. America, William Clark wrote about them at Fort Osage years after the westward movement started.

Take (1/2) a cup of sugar, (1 1/2) teaspoonfuls of soda, butter the size of an egg, (1) cup of yellow corn meal, (1) egg, (1) cup of white flour, (1 1/2) cups of sour cream or buttermilk and a pinch of salt. Grease a flat pan, bake in a field oven, medium heat, check when they start to brown.

The Book of Recipes,1837

Buckwheat Cakes

(1) quart of buckwheat flour, (1) gill of wheat flour, (1) quart - less (1) gill of warm water, (1) gill of yeast, (2) teaspoonfuls of salt. Mix the batter at night in order to have the cakes for breakfast; if very light, an hour before they are required stir the batter down and let it rise again. Bake the cakes on a smooth, nicely-greased griddle and send them to the table the moment they are baked, piled regularly in the middle of the plate. Left over batter will serve as yeast for the next baking; store in a cool place, but don’t let it freeze if in a winter camp. Bring it out at night, add buckwheat, etc., and leave it to rise. With a little care no fresh yeast will be necessary for the winter.

Recipe origin is unknown.,18xx ?

Lenape Pemmican (makes 1 1/2 lbs)

(5) oz. of chipped beef, (1) 6 1/2 oz. of roasted peanuts, (1) cup of seedless raisins, (1) 8 oz. bar of beef suet, make a quick trail lunch / high energy.

Dry beef on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes @ 140 degree oven, chop nuts and raisins up into small pieces, melt suet in a large skillet - low heat. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (beef cut in 1/4” shreds), add melted suet - mix thoroughly. Spread mixture in half inch layer in shallow pan, refrigerate until the layer is hard and then slice into squares. Wrapped in foil, bars stay clean and fresh, will keep for a year in freezer.

This was rewritten in the 1930’s for use in a hunting camp in Pennsylvania, the original 1840’s recipe has been lost in the passage of time.


Boiled Fish (colonies)

Take the nicer fish, more simply it should be prepared. A long , narrow fish skillet with a rack is the best to boil fish in, but even a deep frying pan and a cheesecloth sling, which lets you remove the fish from the water without breaking, will do. Start the fish in cold water, with salt and vinegar in it, or in cold court bouillon. Bring it slowly to a boil and simmer gently until just done, 8 to 10 minutes to the pound. Serve hot, with lemon wedges or a tart sauce.

Mrs.North,Home Cook Book,1721

Court Bouillon (F & I War)

Court Bouillon is used for boiling fresh water fish or others which are without much flavor. It may be prepared before hand and used several times, or the vegetables may be added at the time the fish is boiled.

Fry in (1) tablespoonful of butter, (1) chopped onion, (1) chopped carrot, (1) stalk of celery. Then add (2) quarts of hot water, (1) cup of vinegar or wine, (3) peppercorns, (3) cloves, (1) bay-leaf and (1) teaspoonful of salt. This is a good base for seafood soup according to the local tavern owners. Mr.L.C.Connor,Phila Bulletin,1718

Fish Moultee (Rev. War & War of 1812)

Take any nice fish,(roll it in) egg, bread crumb and fry it with a little turmeric and butter, after cutting it to a nice fillet. Scrape half a fresh coconut, take the milk from it (or soak dried coconut a couple of hours in a little warm water, then use the water), cut some green gringer, green chilies in slices, boil them with the coconut milk and a little water. Add the fish and let stew until the sauce is slightly thickened. Send to the table with rice.

Col.John Johnson,N.England Gazzett,1782

Fry Fish (Civil War)

Fillets of fish may be rolled in corn meal, dredged in flour, dipped first in beaten egg and then in fine bread crumbs, or fried plain. Small fish or small pieces of fish may be dipped in batter and deep fried. For deep frying, the fat should be moderately hot; for sautéing, the pan should be hot but not smoking. Lay the fish in and fry it according to size and thickness, about 10 minutes per pound. Turn it only once. Serve it with slices of lemon.

Pvt.S.B.Boyer,Union Army,Ohio,1866

Johnny Soup

This was a common soup and a favorite of the “Bucktails” of Pennsylvania and Gen.A. Wayne’s Lennie Lenape (Delaware) scouts.

(8) oz. dried lentils, (3) cups water, (1) chopped onion, (1/2) teaspoonful of black pepper and (2) cloves of garlic. Salt to taste, fry bacon pieces - add to taste. Johnny cakes or biscuits cut into small cubes for a filler. Add nuts, rye or rice to make it go farther. Wash and clean lentils, put in a large pot to cook with (3) cups of water (cover lentils by an inch). Medium heat / add garlic, onion and pepper, let simmer for one hour. Add bacon pieces and salt to taste. Put cubes into broth at time of serving. If adding rice or rye cook until they are soft.

Sgt.John Yellowman,Lenape,1761

Pennsylvania Gazzet,1765

Smith Bean Soup

Smith bean soup with red onion strips and a tart apple (sliced into small pieces) work great. The Rev. War cooks used Granny Smith or Winesap apples, when available, in many of their dishes, an attempt to break up an otherwise bland diet for Officers and the Enlisted men.

Lenape Cookbook,1781

Gourd Soup (Civil War)

The gourds should be full-grown, but not those with hard skin; slice three or four, and put them in a stew pot, with (2) or (3) onions and a good bit of butter; set them over a slow fire till quite tender (be careful not to under cook). Stir to keep from sticking to sides of pot and make sure the soup is well done, season as needed.

Mrs.Ellet,The Practical Housekeeper,1857

Boiled Duck or Hare (colonies - War of 1812)

Use a good deal of water and skim it as often as anything rises. Half an hour will boil them. Make a gravy of sweet cream, butter, add flour, a little parsley chopped small, salt and pepper, and stew until done, and lay them in a dish and pour the gravy over them.

Mrs.Owen,New Lady’s Cook Book,1759

Roast Rabbit or Hare (18th & 19 century)

Rabbit or hare was an esteemed dish in the 18th and 19th century, so much so that cooks occasionally doctored beef to try to make it taste like hare.

After casing (skinning & gutting) two rabbits, skewer their heads with their mouths upon their backs, stick their forelegs into their ribs, skewer the hind legs doubled (this approved position in which 19th century rabbits appeared at the table); next make a stuffing for them of the crumbs of half a loaf of bread, a little parsley, sweet marjoram and thyme-all cut fine, salt, pepper and nutmeg, with (4) ounces of butter, a little good cream and (2) eggs; put it into their bodies, and sew them up; dredge and baste them well with lard; roast them about an hour. Serve them up with butter and parsley. Chop the livers, and lay them in lumps around the edge of the dish. (serves 4-6). Harpers Barzaar Magazine,1853

Note: a rabbit and a hare are different, according to Harpers Magazine, a rabbit being raised and a hare being wild. Wild hares in some areas are reported to have a disease and may be harmful if eaten. Harpers’ 1853

Bear Hams (Indian Wars)

Bear meat is best roasted and may be treated the same as pork, cooking twenty minutes to every pound. Prepare the hams in the usual manner by rubbing them with common salt and draining them; Take (1) ounce of saltpeter, half a pound of coarse sugar and the same quantity of salt; rub it well into the ham, and in three days pour a pint of vinegar over it. A fine foreign flavor may also be given to the bear hams by pouring old strong beer over them and burning juniper wood while they are drying; molasses, juniper berries and highly-flavored herbs, such as basil, sage, bay-leaves and thyme mingled together, and the hams well rubbed with it, using only a sufficient quantity of salt to assist in the cure, will afford an agreeable variety.

Mrs.Roper,Phila Cook Book,1886

Venison Steaks

Take nice size steaks from the neck or haunch while having your griddle well buttered, and fire clear and hot (cook in a hot frying pan). Lay steaks on the bars and boil rapidly, turning often not to lose or a drop of juice. They will take three or four minutes longer than fine beef steaks. Have a chafing dish, a pinch of salt, a little pepper,a tablespoon of currant-jelly for every pound, and a glass of wine for every (4) pounds. This should be liquid, and warmed by boiling water under a dish, heat in a saucepan. Lay each steak in the mixture and turn over twice. Cover closely and let all heat together, with fresh hot water underneath-serve in an ordinary dish, covered.

Mrs.Webster,The Improved Housewife,1854





documented facts & stories pertaining to those than went before us.

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